Protect Yourself from Identity Theft With These 10 Tips

Identity theft has become a growing concern now that the web has made personal information more accessible than ever. Those who are worried about identity theft need to take action to secure their data and avoid risky behavior.
1. Shred Physical Documents

One of the ways that identity thieves get documents is by going through discarded trash. Bank statements and other personal information often find their way into trash bags when they really shouldn’t. Merely tearing up important documents is not enough to obscure their information. In order to properly protect themselves from identity theft a person needs to completely shred their physical documents.
2. Avoid Public Computers

Public computers can easily allow identity thieves access to personal information. People can log into their email on public computers and forget to log out, or even enter their banking information into a public computer. If public computers do need to be used they should never be used for something that can allow access to personal or banking information.
ide-card-theft3. Check the Mail

Mail should be checked regularly to avoid scenarios in which the mailbox is emptied by identity thieves before the person the mail was intended for can get it. If someone is out on vacation they should have their mail checked by a friend or neighbor. Otherwise identity thieves may notice the full mailbox and assume that the owner will not notice the mail missing for some time.
4. Avoid Personal Information in Emails

Email is often one of the least secure accounts that an individual will have so people should always avoid giving out or receiving personal information into their email box. Secured emails should always be used when dealing with bank or personal information. If passwords need to be given out they should be given out over the phone.
5. Always Cancel Credit Cards

Many people who are certain they lost their credit cards in a specific way fail to cancel them because they assume they were not stolen. Even if a card is not stolen this does not mean the card wasn’t found by someone who may attempt to use it. Lost cards need to be reported every time to make sure that the owner does not become responsible for the transactions.
6. Only Buy From Reputable Vendors

Almost anyone can set up an online store and begin collecting credit card information. Those who wish to purchase things online should only go with reputable and large online stores or should go through a third party payment processor such as Paypal.
7. Use Virus Scanners

Virus scanners should be used consistently in order to protect computers from viruses that could harvest personal and financial information and send it to scam artists. These viruses are rare but they do occur and when they do they often lead to the publishing of large amounts of information.
8. Check Credit Reports

Those afraid of identity theft should check their credit reports regularly. Annual credit reports are available for free at all three credit reporting agencies.
9. Use Good Passwords

Passwords should never be reused and they should always be long and complicated. Reusing passwords is dangerous because it means that if the password for a single account is leaked then an identity theft will be able to figure out all of the user’s passwords.
10. Don’t Share Information

While it may seem extremely basic one of the main ways for someone to protect themselves is to not share their information. There are many con artists out there today and many of them seem extremely trustworthy. Any time someone is asking for account information the account holder should stop and clearly think about why they might need it.

Though identity theft is a real danger many credit card companies and banks are taking extreme steps to make sure that their customers don’t fall prey to it. Most companies will immediately refund suspicious transactions and many of them will also call customers to let them know that strange transactions have occurred.